Orienting to threat: faster localization of fearful facial expressions and body postures revealed by saccadic eye movements

Rachel L. Bannerman, Maarten Milders, Beatrice de Gelder, Arash Sahraie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Most studies investigating speeded orientation towards threat have used manual responses. By measuring orienting behaviour using eye movements a more direct and ecologically valid measure of attention can be made. Here, we used a forced-choice saccadic and manual localization task to investigate the speed of discrimination for fearful and neutral body and face images. Fearful/neutral body or face pairs were bilaterally presented for either 20 or 500 ms. Results showed faster saccadic orienting to fearful body and face emotions compared with neutral only at the shortest presentation time ( 20 ms). For manual responses, faster discrimination of fearful bodies and faces was observed only at the longest duration ( 500 ms). More errors were made when localizing neutral targets, suggesting that fearful bodies and faces may have captured attention automatically. Results were not attributable to low-level image properties as no threat bias, in terms of reaction time or accuracy, was observed for inverted presentation. Taken together, the results suggest faster localization of threat conveyed both by the face and the body within the oculomotor system. In addition, enhanced detection of fearful body postures suggests that we can readily recognize threat-related information conveyed by body postures in the absence of any face cues.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1635-1641
    Number of pages7
    JournalProceedings B
    Volume276
    Issue number1662
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2009

    Cite this

    Bannerman, Rachel L. ; Milders, Maarten ; de Gelder, Beatrice ; Sahraie, Arash. / Orienting to threat: faster localization of fearful facial expressions and body postures revealed by saccadic eye movements. In: Proceedings B. 2009 ; Vol. 276, No. 1662. pp. 1635-1641.
    @article{57fe610508594ef0b04a29d1c4b1d5a4,
    title = "Orienting to threat: faster localization of fearful facial expressions and body postures revealed by saccadic eye movements",
    abstract = "Most studies investigating speeded orientation towards threat have used manual responses. By measuring orienting behaviour using eye movements a more direct and ecologically valid measure of attention can be made. Here, we used a forced-choice saccadic and manual localization task to investigate the speed of discrimination for fearful and neutral body and face images. Fearful/neutral body or face pairs were bilaterally presented for either 20 or 500 ms. Results showed faster saccadic orienting to fearful body and face emotions compared with neutral only at the shortest presentation time ( 20 ms). For manual responses, faster discrimination of fearful bodies and faces was observed only at the longest duration ( 500 ms). More errors were made when localizing neutral targets, suggesting that fearful bodies and faces may have captured attention automatically. Results were not attributable to low-level image properties as no threat bias, in terms of reaction time or accuracy, was observed for inverted presentation. Taken together, the results suggest faster localization of threat conveyed both by the face and the body within the oculomotor system. In addition, enhanced detection of fearful body postures suggests that we can readily recognize threat-related information conveyed by body postures in the absence of any face cues.",
    author = "Bannerman, {Rachel L.} and Maarten Milders and {de Gelder}, Beatrice and Arash Sahraie",
    year = "2009",
    month = "5",
    day = "7",
    doi = "10.1098/rspb.2008.1744",
    language = "English",
    volume = "276",
    pages = "1635--1641",
    journal = "Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences",
    issn = "0962-8452",
    publisher = "Royal Society of London",
    number = "1662",

    }

    Orienting to threat: faster localization of fearful facial expressions and body postures revealed by saccadic eye movements. / Bannerman, Rachel L.; Milders, Maarten; de Gelder, Beatrice; Sahraie, Arash.

    In: Proceedings B, Vol. 276, No. 1662, 07.05.2009, p. 1635-1641.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Orienting to threat: faster localization of fearful facial expressions and body postures revealed by saccadic eye movements

    AU - Bannerman, Rachel L.

    AU - Milders, Maarten

    AU - de Gelder, Beatrice

    AU - Sahraie, Arash

    PY - 2009/5/7

    Y1 - 2009/5/7

    N2 - Most studies investigating speeded orientation towards threat have used manual responses. By measuring orienting behaviour using eye movements a more direct and ecologically valid measure of attention can be made. Here, we used a forced-choice saccadic and manual localization task to investigate the speed of discrimination for fearful and neutral body and face images. Fearful/neutral body or face pairs were bilaterally presented for either 20 or 500 ms. Results showed faster saccadic orienting to fearful body and face emotions compared with neutral only at the shortest presentation time ( 20 ms). For manual responses, faster discrimination of fearful bodies and faces was observed only at the longest duration ( 500 ms). More errors were made when localizing neutral targets, suggesting that fearful bodies and faces may have captured attention automatically. Results were not attributable to low-level image properties as no threat bias, in terms of reaction time or accuracy, was observed for inverted presentation. Taken together, the results suggest faster localization of threat conveyed both by the face and the body within the oculomotor system. In addition, enhanced detection of fearful body postures suggests that we can readily recognize threat-related information conveyed by body postures in the absence of any face cues.

    AB - Most studies investigating speeded orientation towards threat have used manual responses. By measuring orienting behaviour using eye movements a more direct and ecologically valid measure of attention can be made. Here, we used a forced-choice saccadic and manual localization task to investigate the speed of discrimination for fearful and neutral body and face images. Fearful/neutral body or face pairs were bilaterally presented for either 20 or 500 ms. Results showed faster saccadic orienting to fearful body and face emotions compared with neutral only at the shortest presentation time ( 20 ms). For manual responses, faster discrimination of fearful bodies and faces was observed only at the longest duration ( 500 ms). More errors were made when localizing neutral targets, suggesting that fearful bodies and faces may have captured attention automatically. Results were not attributable to low-level image properties as no threat bias, in terms of reaction time or accuracy, was observed for inverted presentation. Taken together, the results suggest faster localization of threat conveyed both by the face and the body within the oculomotor system. In addition, enhanced detection of fearful body postures suggests that we can readily recognize threat-related information conveyed by body postures in the absence of any face cues.

    U2 - 10.1098/rspb.2008.1744

    DO - 10.1098/rspb.2008.1744

    M3 - Article

    C2 - 19203922

    VL - 276

    SP - 1635

    EP - 1641

    JO - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

    JF - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

    SN - 0962-8452

    IS - 1662

    ER -